NHL Rumor Mill – May 28, 2019

by | May 28, 2019 | Rumors | 59 comments

Latest on Phil Kessel, Jason Zucker, and Erik Karlsson plus an update on the Vegas Golden Knights in today’s NHL rumor mill. 


THE SCORE: Josh Wegman cites The Athletic’s Michael Russo reporting Phil Kessel nixed a trade to the Minnesota Wild last week. Sources close to Kessel told Russo the Pittsburgh Penguins winger didn’t believe the Wild is close to contending for the Stanley Cup. He also expressed concern over potential linemates and wasn’t swayed by a call from Wild general manager Paul Fenton. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: So much for the theory that, with two Cup rings on his resume, Kessel had lost his competitive edge. If playing for a contender is that important to him, it could douse rumors linking him to the Arizona Coyotes. 


The Minnesota Wild are attempting to trade winger Jason Zucker (Photo via NHL Images).

Russo also noted Jason Zucker was part of the Wild’s offer for Kessel. It’s the second time since February they’ve attempted to trade the 27-year-old winger. An effort to ship him to the Calgary Flames fell through at the trade deadline.

Russo claims the Penguins and Flames remain interested in Zucker. Sources claim the Vancouver Canucks, Arizona Coyotes, and Anaheim Ducks also made inquiries. 

The Wild “inquired about Christian Dvorak and Christian Fischer in Arizona, Sam Bennett and Michael Frolik in Calgary, and Jonathan Marchessault with the Vegas Golden Knights, according to Russo.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Overlooked in all the hoopla over the Wild’s interest in Kessel is their intent to move Zucker this summer. I’ll be surprised if he’s still on their roster when training camp opens in September. GM Fenton appears keen to move the winger and he wants either an established scorer or a winger with offensive potential in return.

 Fenton also inquired about Brock Boeser but the Canucks weren’t interested. Still, I don’t blame Fenton for asking. 


TSN: cited The Athletic’s Joe Smith musing over how the Tampa Bay Lightning might afford Erik Karlsson via free agency on July 1.  If Karlsson seeks an annual average value of $11 million he won’t get it from the Bolts. However, if the 28-year-old Sharks defenseman is willing to accept between $8-$9 million per season, there’s a chance the Lightning could pursue him. 

Smith acknowledged the Lightning have limited salary-cap space and center Brayden Point is due for a big raise this summer. However, they could free up over $11 million by trading Ryan Callahan and J.T. Miller. It would still be a tight fit but doable. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As per Cap Friendly, the Lightning has over $74.4 million invested in 17 players. Assuming an $83 million cap for 2019-20, they’ll have about $8.5 million in cap room. Moving Callahan and Miller would increase it to around $20 million.

If Karlsson accepts less than market value and Point accepts a bridge deal with the promise of a bigger payday down the road, it would be possible to pull this off. Making it happen, however, could be easier said than done. 


LAS VEGAS SUN: Justin Emerson examines how the Vegas Golden Knights can free up sufficient salary-cap space to re-sign restricted free agent William Karlsson and become cap compliant for 2019-20. He suggests trading Cody Eakin, Ryan Reaves, and Colin Miller for futures without taking any salary back. Also, they could decline to re-sign pending UFAs Deryk Engelland, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Ryan Carpenter, and Brandon Pirri. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights must shed salary if they hope to re-sign Karlsson and find room for younger, affordable talent. How many players get moved will depend upon how much it costs to re-sign Karlsson. Expect new GM Kelly McCrimmon and team president George McPhee to be busy in the trade market next month. 


  1. What world does Joe Smith live in? 11mil is not even a remote possibility for a guy with that many health questions…

    • 🧐

    • Nope. Been saying tat since he turned down Doron’s offer. Mind you, $8-9 mil in Florida is BETTER than $11 mil in most other locations, especially Ottawa with it’s multi-layered tax systems which bites deep into any income.

      • George,

        The Ottawa offer pretrade is most certainly more than anyone will offer him now. Getting the injury prone label now and it felt like every time the Knights, Lanche or Blues scored Karlsson was on the ice.

        Buyer beware.

    • hope u r right Cowboy-EK is not what the lightning needs-
      this would b an awful move by the post Yzerman regime-

    • Agreed, the 11 million per ship has sailed for Karlsson. Going to be interesting to see if Karlsson is about winning or $$.

      • I know one thing Ron – Dorion would welcome back Matt Duchene a lot faster than he would Karlsson. Like, light-speed faster. That ship, too, has sailed.

      • I think we know that answer Mr. Ron-

  2. Tampa needs someone on defense. Girardi, Stralman and Coburn all ufa. With no state tax it’s possible EK could sign for less than expected. Tampa always seemed like his preferred destination. Have to figure that Foote makes jump on elc, will help balance cap hits on back end.

    • TB can look at Miller in Vegas instead of resigning Girardi or Coburn, and Stralman since he is cost controlled.

    • Too many moving parts for that to happen. Bolts would have to do that before July 1 before any more NTC’s move into play (modified or not). To make room for both EK 65 and Brayden Point, they would have to get poor returns on Callahan and Miller and likely Gourde too if you are looking ahead to next year when Sergachev and Vasilevskiy are both due. And, Karlsson would have to come on board for less than he could get elsewhere.

  3. Kessel kind of reminds me a bit of Danny Heatley, although in Heatley’s case he turned down a trade to Edmonton because he didn’t consider them a “contender” – this after DEMANDING he be traded. So he was sent to SJ – never won anything there – then Minnesota – ditto – and finally to Anaheim where he lasted just 6 games before shuffled off to the AHL.

    If Kessel will only OK a trade to a so-called “contender” the pickings are going to be mighty slim as any in that category already have scoring and likely aren’t about to start shuffling the deck to make room for a one-dimensional scoring winger with conditioning issues.

    • I hope the pens keep him unless they get a deal that works.

      And I don’t get the conditioning thing… never seen an issue yet.

      • We’ve all played with guys like Kessel – looks like he’s dying when the other team has the puck and fit as a fiddle as soon as the puck is turned over. He is what he is – a pure scorer, an excellent passer and, despite his reluctance to backcheck, a guy you want to have in the big games.

    • 823 points in 996 games and two Cups. I’m sure a lot of players without “conditioning issues” would love to have that on their resume.

    • Yeah, a guy that averages a point per game in a scoring hungry league and has a cap hit of 6.8 which is peanuts today for a scorer has little value … time to change your Depends Old Man in Ottawa …

      • Still can’t make a comment without adding in your snarky crap about aging eh Eddie? You must be a joy to be around at family gatherings where anyone is over 70! Then again, the nick you chose reflects your mindset which has to comparable to a bridge troll.

        You see, in order to be a smart-ass you first have to be smart. Otherwise you’re just an ass.

    • You would be better off comparing him to Brett Hull.

    • Phil is going to go kicking and screaming……oh boy

      Minnesota is a terrific place to play hockey…pens could ship him to Arizona where his buddy tochket is and they are on the trade list….

      They aren’t contending soon…

  4. Zucker stinks, terrible playoff guy, like 4 goals in 31 games

    • I think I like you Ed .

  5. At the risk of getting hammered here, might Tampa consider trading Point? He put up huge numbers for a crazy good Tampa team during regular season. He only had 1 point in 4 games vs Columbus.( ppg) As I mentioned above, they need defensemen and if they’re really high on signing Karlsson, trading Point now instead of paying him could help recoup picks and prospects. Also might entice a team to take Callahan. Point and Callahan to Rangers for Pick #20 this year, a 1st next year and Lias Anderson?

    • That is insane, no way would NYR give up that package for what you are offering. Lias will be a #2 within the next 2 seasons, the #20 this year is way more valuable than a used up Cally at this point in his career. Point played well on a loaded team, I seriously doubt he could replicate those #’s with NY’s current lineup. Stick with the rebuild, let the kids play another season to see what improvements have been made. The 2nd overall this year is going to be a franchise player, a first for NYR since I started cheering for them in 85′.

      • My trade had nothing to do with #2 overall. Agree Point had a lot of talent around him, but not everyone puts up 80+ points in back to back seasons at his age. Anderson ceiling I don’t see as high. Point at 2C with all the young wingers we have coming solidified forward group for years to come.

    • you deserved to be hammered for even suggesting it …

      • And you deserve to be stuffed face-first in a public toilet

      • LOL. Yep

    • TB’s cap issues and Point’s status as the best RFA in the league are the reasons that I think he will be presented with an offer sheet. Not saying he will sign it but there must be several teams that are considering such a move. He could be a top centre for the next ten years, a Bergeron or Toews type player. What franchise couldn’t use a player like Point?

      • Best RFA in the league? Nah…That’s Marner, not Point.

      • All around point is better than marner

      • Ahahahhah…the habs attract a free agent. Keep tokin boys!

      • I love Mitch Marner but I would trade him for Brayden Point. Never happening though.

    • Well if you take out the 1st rd pick next year and just leave it Point for Lias and the #20 this year…you cna consider that a good trade. Rangers take Cally for the 1 yr also bc they are not giving more back to TB. fair deal

  6. Tampa will also need to sign Vasilevsky next year. It’ll be way too difficult.

  7. Bad moods on the site today! NYR should take Kakko and stick with re-build-leave trades and UFA’s alone for now unless they can really get obviously better. EK not going anywhere for 10-11 and Florida is the right place for him, particularly if they move one or two players out.
    I am interested in where Panarin and Bob might go? Also in whether there is a market for Nylander?

    • I’m basing trade on Rangers getting Kakko. Point is only 23 years old and already established as an above avg nhl player. This does nothing to hurt rebuild as others have suggested taking on Cally’s contract with a sweetener. I wouldn’t do for a b level prospect, and Tampa can get that kind of return elsewhere. Maybe an overpay with Callahan, so perhaps a 2nd or 2”3rd next year instead of a 1st.
      Again, it’s something maybe Tampa considers if they have hopes of signing Karlsson
      As far as Gardner, he’s left side, not a need.

  8. The Bolts are better off grabbing up Jake Gardiner, than looking at Karlsson. Not because Jake’s an ex-Leaf, but because he puts up numbers and will be significantly cheaper.

    • Gardiner to Montreal?

      • That wouldn’t surprise me. He’d be a massive improvement over Alzner. Depends on how much he’s seeking, I guess, and for how long

      • I like that move a lot BCLeafsfan. I think that Gardiner paired with Weber would help him improve defensively. Just depends on how much Gardiner is asking…

  9. nobody with choice is going to Montreal….great fans …..love to listen to their games on the radio…..but no professional free agent is going there unless he is without choice….they will take less to be elsewhere

    • It’s certainly been a while since Kovalev went there as a free agent. Other than him, the best they could attract were Brian Gionta, Roman Hamrlik and Eric Cole!

    • Funny hearing a leaf fan say that! The leafs have signed one free agent in Tavares and still got bounced in the first round haven’t won a playoff series in 16 years , the best part after signing an 11 million dollar contract the team that added no one and lost Tavares made it farther than the leafs. Sometimes it’s best not to overpay for free agents as in the leafs case they desperately needed defense and now they can’t afford defense and are stuck with a soon to be 30 yr old Tavares at 11 million

      • I dunno Bigbadbruins – to be fair, they have been able to attract free agents of a higher calibre than Montreal – I’m thinking of Bozak, Curtis Joseph, Ed Belfour, Alex Mogilny –

      • But, except for Tavares, neither has been able to attract a high-level UFA for a long time which, I think, has a lot to do with not wanting to be in a fish-bowl environment where you can’t fart without it being on umpteen panel shows and plastered over several newspapers.

      • Everybody wants to play in Toronto, just watch Sportsnet for 10 minutes.


      • That’s the problem Ron the Toronto media talks up the leafs like they’re contenders when they haven’t done anything! They will have 3 guys making 11 million dollars and can’t get out of the first round! Their defense will never go far it’s bottom 5 in the league in end zone time and quality scoring chances and they really have nothing coming up that will change that, they’re in cap hell with these big contracts and the one that hurts the most is signing Tavares when they didn’t need offense they DESPERATELY needed defense

  10. I think EK would accept 9,5 to play in Tampa with the taxes and all and a no move clause and money up front. As for declining, I just dont see it. He isnt as fast as before but he still drives offence like no other D, look at the stats.

    • Tampa scored 39 more goals than the next closest team. I don’t see why they would have interest in EK. He is not very good at defense. I know that they have holes on defense with 3 ufas, but Foote should be up next season and they would be better off getting someone like Benn for a fraction of the cost.

      • You are right Mr. Buffalo-they need defense that concentrates on defense-(anybody notice Yzerman signed a young Finnish defender-

  11. The Tavares thing has not been seen through to the end yet. He was signed last year as he was available then. He scored 47 goals so it was not a failure. The team was not prepared for it, thus the secondary problems ( Marner) and tertiary ones ( Johnnson, Kadri, & Kapenen). But everyone who is skeptical needs to remember they are all tradeable assets. For D men, for lesser players and draft choices. So the final results are not known.

    As to the irony of a Leaf fan observing no one with choice wants to go to Montreal, there is some truth to that it has been hard for Toronto, and for all Canadian teams. But I think for the obvious reasons, higher taxes, 2 languages, and overly devoted fans it is harder for Montreal.

    A related aside with Canadian over reaching for RFA’s as a result of media and fan pressure. I think in general the signing of free agents is a mugs game, and should cuase fear in the NHL board rooms. More for Canadian teams ( Alzner/Clarkson/the Vancouver Sutter/James Neal).

    Tavares I hope and believe will be the exception after the trade that comes out it is realized this summer.

    • What gm is going to offer fair value to dubas when EVERY gm knows Toronto can’t afford to pay and guys will just sit? Dubas will have to take what he can get or get nothing and have guys sit like nylander who btw s a bad contract maybe the softest player in the league

  12. Time will tell bigbear.

    • Shticky hows it going? What happened to your leafs another first round loss? When’s the last time they won a series!? But keep thinking they’re contenders lol it shows your hockey knowledge and by the way good hockey comments Lyle thanks you! Lol

  13. Because of the cap and its effects on team-building, every team in the league will be looking to draft and develop its own group and the salary breakdown will be – Core players 70%, depth players 30%. There are plenty of teams facing that situation this year but every team that becomes a contender will face it eventually, including those incredible, unbeatable Boston Bruins.
    I’ve always respected the Bruins and still think that Bobby Orr is the greatest of them all but some of their fans are kinda sad and might want to get a life.

    • That applies to most leaf fans, they havent been credible in a very long time yet the fans think they’re way better than they are

  14. IF Kessel wants to go to a contender what about

    to CAR: Kessel
    to Pitts: Faulk

    • You might be on to something ihatecrosby. Would Phil go there? Seems like a good place to play.